“Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)
It should go without saying that the angels from Heaven know a lot more than you or I do. And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and they brought the announcement to the shepherds on a dark hillside nearby, they identified Jesus as “a Savior.” Check any dictionary and you’ll find the obvious: the word means “one who saves.”
I once pastored a church which used to have a blue neon sign out front which beamed out the message JESUS SAVES. They took it down in the 1950s, I think, but have never asked anyone the reason. I think I know. People are embarrassed by that message. Erect it on the front of a church building, and immediately people think you are a bunch of holy rollers or religious nuts. And since we all want to appear dignified and respectful, they took it off the building and probably sent it to the trash heap.
Read a thousand Christmas messages–cards, advertisements, songs, sermons–and you’ll find very few dealing with the salvation aspect of Jesus’ coming to earth. And yet, according to the angels, that was the whole point of His coming! He came to save us.
In fact, that’s what His very name means. “You shall call his name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins,” the angel Gabriel had told Joseph (Matthew 1:21). The literal meaning of ‘Jesus’ is something like ‘The Lord saves.’
All of which begs the question: SAVED FROM WHAT? And to what? The New Testament is filled with answers to both questions, and I’ll let you do your own spadework on that. But in essence, it tells us we are saved from ourselves, from our sins, from the penalty for our sins, from this perverse generation, and such. We are saved to new purpose in this life, to Heaven in the life to come, and to all the plans and promises of God.
I hate to argue with Christmas cards–they can be so beautiful and inspiring–but Jesus did not come to bring peace on earth according to His own words (Matthew 10:34). He did not come to make everyone feel good about themselves or the human situation. He did not come to bless religion or to tell everyone they are loved and beautiful in God’s sight. He came to save us.
That’s what His death on the cross was all about. It was the culmination of the very purpose for His appearance in the first place. A gospel song about His death puts it like this: ‘Don’t feel sorry for my Jesus; He did exactly what He came to do.’
This means that the Christmas gift of God to mankind is salvation through Jesus Christ. Have you received your gift yet? Put your faith and trust in Christ. Stop now and do so, to the best of your ability. Just tell him this, and He will take it from there.
Two days ago a pastor in another state who used to live in New Orleans called to check on the local situation. We had never met, but in our conversation, one thing led to another and he ended up telling me his story. I was struck by his tale of loving church as a teenager and becoming totally involved in its ministries. “I was 16 years old and teaching a class of grown men,” he laughed. Then one day, the pastor asked him to take a larger responsibility. “I can’t,” he said.
The pastor said, “Sure you can. Why can’t you?”
The youth said, “Pastor, I’m not a member of the church. I’ve never seen saved and never been baptized.” The preacher was stunned.
Everyone had made the assumption that because the young man loved being in church so much and was so eager to do anything asked, he surely must be a believer.
“That day,” my new friend said, “the pastor went over the way of salvation with me and as we bowed our heads, he led me to ask Jesus Christ to come into my life, to forgive my sin, and to make me a child of God.”
My friend, it’s one thing for others to make false assumptions about you and your faith. But do not be guilty of making the same mistake yourself. Make certain you have repented and put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Today. Now.